Written by Dylan Charles
Since October, students at the University of Leicester have been trying to come to terms with the demands of speaking online as they adapt to digital learning.
When asked if students should be made to speak in class, one university lecturer said: “No. I think that might easily do more harm than good. Using the chat is fine by me. It is a different kind of teaching.”
Emily Pittam, a first-year student, at the University, said: “This is an alien environment that we have been plunged into.
“I think the main issue is that there are new rules for us to learn with interacting with one another over online seminars, and this is causing the disconnect.
“In certain seminars I will feel comfortable speaking, but this takes time and that is the main drawback to these online seminars. It is taking twice as long for people to feel comfortable to speak in front of the group than it would if we were in-person.”
When speaking of the problems with online technology, she said: “The issues with connection and mics cutting out, although a seemingly menial problem can feel quite embarrassing. And so this could discourage people from speaking.”
Another first-year student at the University, said: “In breakout groups, I think some students feel a lot of pressure to say something amazing and this adds to their anxiety.”
He added: “Using the chat helps me personally to be more confident. I can take part and I don’t feel pressured into giving the right answer.”
One senior lecturer recognises students’ anxiety when it comes to this:
“Everyone is self-conscious about this. As you grow older you realise that not-knowing is a gift, because it brings change and evolution. Knowing something already is a static state. Say something, be wrong, glory in learning something new.”
He said of the students who are quiet: “They’re just relieved that someone is speaking. It’s not easy to be surrounded by people you don’t know at this age, especially given the way social media has reconstructed people’s lives and interactions.”
“We have had to be very methodical in ensuring all learning materials are available, easy to find and use. This makes the teaching products we produce arguably more lucid.”
Many Leicester students agree that pre-recorded lectures and recorded seminars makes it easier for them to catch up on anything they have missed, but they are looking forward to returning to normality in 2021.
Dylan Charles is a first year Journalism and Creative Writing student from Northampton. Having spent much of his education abroad, he would like to carve out a career in Sports Journalism that allows him the opportunity to travel extensively, mixing with and engaging with different cultures and communities.
Image by Glenn Carstens-Peters from Unsplash.